Backpack on shoulders, wallet in hand, and my sleepy head walk into Starbucks early Saturday morning. I have found the perfect atmosphere for tackling homework—a corner table for my laptop and myself, the aroma of coffee tickling my nose, and mindless chatter drifting around the room. My Saturday is set for productiveness.
As words are bouncing out of my head and onto the screen, a young couple walks in. Hands in pockets, plastered smiles, and eyes darting around the room as if conversation topics were hanging on the walls, get in line to order their drinks. It looks like a first date for the two.
After receiving their coffee, they sit down at the table across from me. Their nervous smiles twitch on their face, evident that the attraction exists but too afraid to admit it in fear that they’ll cross a line.
The conversation begins to flow, they have found that they both enjoy watching How I Met Your Mother and are quoting lines from their favorite episodes. The sharing of lines dwindles and their voices trail off. The man picks at his cup warmer, tearing the glued ends apart and then shredding the cardboard into confetti. Once the warmer was nothing but flakes, he moved to his lid to be his new toy for his hands. Rubbing his nails against the rim, he cracks the plastic into his cup.
Indie rock music dances around them when their words cease, pushing them closer to explore the hidden layers of each others’ lives, personalities, and dreams. He jumps the conversation by talking about his job, a topic he knows he can spin into the mix of music and thoughts.
She laughs nervously and keeps sipping her mocha as he chatters. Eventually, she takes the last sip of her coffee. Not knowing what to do with her hands, she pretends some coffee magically reappeared in her cup and takes another sip. Luckily for her, the man is too busy talking about his latest project to hear the empty thud as she sets her cup down.
Yet as anxious as they were, they were completely immersed in each other—unaware of their surroundings, unaware of me watching them, unaware of the ticking clock. They were solely aware of the person sitting across from them that’s making their insides churn from nervousness yet their hearts flutter with excitement with the thought of all the future possibilities that potentially lie ahead for them.
The clock ticks by and soon their date winds down. She looks at her watch and gestures outside, maybe about an appointment she has to get to. They stand, throw away the remnants of their worry and doubt, and he walks her to her cherry-red Taurus. She turns around and they gaze a little too long at each other with sugary smiles and encouraging eyes. He leans in and hugs her, whispering in her ear, probably that he had a great time and would like to meet again. She leans away from the hug with a warm, giddy smile and nods yes to the request.
The man speed-walks back to his vehicle, energized by how well the date went. He turns around and watches her drive off. Standing and staring where her car was parked, a goofy grin fills his face and yearning paints over his eyes as he thinks of everything they could become.
He shakes his head and slips into his rustic-green Camry and whips out of the parking lot, turning onto the highway.